Punch-Drunk Teen Gets Defensive

"Wasted" teen says parade cancellation not his fault

As the regrets and recriminations flew in the aftermath of South Side Irish Parade organizers cancelling the event due to excess revelry that has turned the event into a giant drunken mess, a Midlothian teenager accused of punching two Chicago officers during this year's celebration stepped forward on Thursday to asking that Chicagoans "don't blame me" for the end of a tradition.

This is not a story ripped from the pages of the Onion. The SouthtownStar has the skinny:

"'I was wasted,' [Gonzalo] Vasquez said outside his home in the 14800 block of Lawndale Avenue on Thursday afternoon. 'But I wasn't the only one. Everybody was drunk. You can't blame me for them canceling the parade'."

Along with a friend, Vasquez, who is 17, is facing two counts of aggravated battery to a police officer. With an all-time high of 54 people charged during the parade, Vasquez is at least a little to blame - but there's plenty to go around.

The parade's problems have been growing over the last few years. According to the SouthtownStar, just four people were arrested at the parade in 2006. In 2007, that number rose to 18. In 2008, that number rose to 30. This year's 54 seems almost predictable, then.

Still, Facebook is strewn with more than dozen groups trying to "save" or "revive" or otherwise protest the cancellation of the parade.

The description of the "Save the South Side Irish Parade!," a Facebook group with 799 members, says: "We can't let them get rid of the parade! I just turned 21! Nooooooooo."

At least we know we can't blame Gonzalo Vasquez for starting this group - he's not old enough.

The "Save the South Side Irish Parade" (no exclamation point) group is taking a different approach:

"For those who have not heard, the committee in charge of the South Side Irish Parade has chosen to cancel the Parade in 2010. This news comes only weeks after the announcement that the Sears Tower, Chicago's most recognizable landmark, will change its name to The Willis Tower. This is not only a page to save the parade, but also to preserve the city of Chicago just the way it is."

 The group - which identifies its office location as "The True Southside Irish" - has 308 members.
YouTube is now featuring parade videos ranging from "Police beating on some guy" to "The End Of An Era: The Death of The South Side Irish Parade" to the original 1958 parade, which was then called the 79th Street Saint Patrick's Day Parade.
Some folks have seen enough, though, including Chuck Corrigan, president of the West Suburban Irish, dashing hopes that he might get behind hosting the event.

"No, we're not going to have a new South Side parade here in Naperville," Corrigan told the Daily Herald. "We're not going to be reaching out saying, 'Come here to Naperville now that you don't have a place to get drunk and pee on someone's yard anymore'."

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